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A first for radio sailing at IOM World Championships in Pierrelatte, France

by Roger Stollery 14 May 2017 21:13 BST 14-20 May 2017
IOM racing © IOM worlds

Sailing is said not to be a spectator sport because of the difficulty of televising it. However radio sailing really is a spectator sport, because all the action happens within eyesight from the control area.

At World Championships there is usually video of the days events, but at this championship for the first time ever there is live action of every race, broadcast by a professional TV outfit, which also does the commentary. The link to this innovative way of presenting live sailing is www.iomwc2017.vfc-pierrelatte.com.

The MYA which regularly sends in reports to Clubs and Classes is keen to promote this particular side of our sport often not regarded very highly because of its small size. Recently Yachts and Yachting has concentrated on the largest of boats, but it is the size and the fact that races only take 10 minutes or so that increases the excitement of racing. Full-size sailors are beginning to realise this, as most of the new MYA clubs being formed are within full-size sailing clubs. Some really good skippers from the full-size world are competing in the MYA's comprehensive list of events and producing lots of high quality sailors. The skill of the GBR team at Pierrelatte is very high indeed with 4 of our team of 10 having one World Championships. You need just the same skills as if you were on board plus some extra ones. It is commonly thought that radio sailors are just boys playing with toys. The standard can be judged by the French bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games taking part in a similar IOM championship in Marseille in 2007, where he only managed to finish 9th.

It really is worth a look at this World Championship to see the live action and the excitement that this can create. For me today it has been really exciting to watch my son Peter, sailing and orange boat, sail number 39, who started well by winning the first race, but then had some trips to B heat.

The fleet of 76 competitors from 30 nations is split into five heats A, B, C, D and E, each of 20 boats. Heat E races first and the top six finishers don't score points, but are promoted to heat D, which races next and so on. At the end of the race at the completion of A heat, those that finished in the bottom six of their heat are then rescheduled to the heat below for the next race.

This event is very well presented and would be of interest to anyone who races.

The racing starts tomorrow Sunday, 14 May and goes on until Friday the 19th, so there is plenty to see for those that may be interested. Today, they sailed five complete races and race 6 heat E. The conditions were very good today a light to moderate fluky wind and if these conditions continue there could be a total of 150 races available to watch. This has never been done before and I hope that you will be able to make something of this unique event to publicise our sport as much as possible.

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